On the 26th of last month, North Korea held an election for local People’s Assembly representatives, similar to our local council elections. In the vote on this day, there was a dissenting vote for the first time in North Korean history, attracting attention.
However, there are many who point out that this negative vote does not mean that residents are actually guaranteed the right to vote.
In relation to this, NK Times exclusively covered residents’ reactions to the election process and results through sources inside North Korea. As a result, there was testimony that the voting rights in this election were not exercised according to the free will of the residents.
First of all, looking at the coverage, North Korea issued instructions containing newly changed election methods and methods to each local party committee and election committee ahead of the election on November 26th.
This directive included information to ensure that residents clearly understand the newly changed election law and method, and it was reported that from this year onwards, each person can vote according to their own free will rather than voting in favor of 100℅.
In particular, North Korea specifically stated through the directive that, although there was only one election box in the past, starting this year, two election boxes will be installed instead of one, that is, by installing approval and disapproval boxes, it will not be a problem even if you vote against a candidate. It is known that it was emphasized.
Diagnosing the content of these instructions, it can be read to mean that North Korea has already decided on a very narrow margin of opposition before the election. In addition, it is interpreted as an attempt to promote to the outside world that democratic elections are being held in North Korea through the new election method, and to rally residents through the new election method internally.
So what did the North Korean people who actually participated in this election think?
A resident of Hoeryeong City, North Hamgyong Province, said in a phone call with this newspaper on the 12th, “I was very surprised when I first received information about the changed election method. I was surprised by the change in the election method, and I was even more surprised to hear that they would not take issue with voting against it.”
He continued, “Through the new election method, residents were given free choice, but they have never opposed the party’s policies since birth. Even if there is dissatisfaction, the moment they express it, they are severely punished.” “It is not easy to vote against it because of the fear of being watched from somewhere. If there is someone who really voted against it as announced by the authorities, it is either a really courageous person who risked their life, or it is highly likely that it was a fabrication,” he testified.
This reaction was found to be similar among Yanggang Province residents.
A resident of Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province, told the NK Times on the 11th, “There were several briefing sessions through the People’s Unit meeting regarding the changed election method ahead of the representative election on November 26. If we had voted according to the authorities’ policy and propaganda, we would have “90% of the people of the country would have voted against it,” he said. “It is surprising that there was a vote against it in a situation where it is unclear how the pros and cons of the election will be added up, but no one believes it.”
He continued, “There are rumors going around in other regions that there are people who not only opposed but also abstained. In our (North Korea) country, opposition or abstention is not possible, and if you say something like that, the National Security Agency immediately starts an investigation. But if anyone objects or abstains, it is not possible to object or abstain.” “Do I carelessly say that I abstained, but ordinary residents voting against or abstaining of their own free will will never happen until the world changes,” he argued.
At the same time, he said, “Everyone knows that here (in North Korea), even the wrong word is treated as a reactionary, an anti-DPRK scheme to conquer the system, or a reactionary. However, it is nonsense to say that there was a natural negative vote in the election,” he said. “If the negative vote was really based on the free will of the residents, it would be a really big problem in our country.”
Previously, North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun reported that in the local People’s Assembly delegate election held on the 26th of last month, the approval rate for the provincial People’s Assembly candidate was 99.91%, and the approval rate for the city People’s Assembly delegate candidate was 99.87%.
***This article is a Google translation and may differ from the content of this publication.